Barry Maitland






Allen & Unwin, August 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

It is a cold winterís night, and the snow is falling heavily in Cockpit Lane. Anxious to get home, a night watchman nearly misses the open door that leads to the discovery of the bodies of two sixteen year old girls. Cockpit Lane lies in an area of London where Jamaican immigrants have made their homes; a place seething with poverty, racism and crime. Detective Inspector David Brock and Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla from Scotland Yard's Serious Crimes Branch lead the investigation. While the police are scouring some waste land near the scene of the crime, a young boy is doing a search of his own. When he is electrocuted on the nearby railway line, a human jawbone is discovered in his pocket. This discovery leads to three skeletons, victims from the time of the Brixton riots in the 1970ís. From this point on author Barry Maitland cleverly intertwines the dual investigations into the current victims and the past ones. DI Brock used to work in the area when he was a sergeant. He immediately thinks of the Roach family, who once terrorised the area. The leader of the family, Spider, is now elderly; his sons are assumed to be respectable businessmen. However Brock believes that once a villain, always a villain, and starts to widen his line of investigation to include the Roaches.

Thrown into the mixture is the local MP, Michael Grant. He is a Jamaican immigrant, and like Brock is convinced the Roaches have something to do with both sets of murders. He constantly hampers the investigation by dropping in unannounced into the police station to see what lines of investigation they are following, and making what he believes to be helpful suggestions. The personal lives of both Brock and Kolla enter the story, but more to expand our knowledge of the two characters rather than detract from the story. All Maitlandís characters, both good and bad, are consistent and real. These are the men and women you would see in the local pub or street market. None of the characters are out of place in their setting.

SPIDER TRAP has a complicated plot. There is a lot going on all at once, but Maitland slowly draws the strings together, letting one drop occasionally to send the reader off on another tangent only to drag it back in. It all builds to a climatic and bloody crescendo in north Wales. SPIDER TRAP is Maitlandís eighth book in the Brock and Kolla series.

April 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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